John Roberts ducks the spotlight by skipping the second Trump impeachment trial

By | January 25, 2021

CNN reports:

Chief Justice John Roberts has long been a student of history, but this is one part of history — presiding at the second trial of Donald Trump — he can do without.

Roberts won a reprieve from another ordeal with Trump, a man who challenged judicial integrity, declared he could get his way at the Supreme Court and then called the justices “totally incompetent and weak” when he failed to prevail.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and the president pro tempore of the chamber, will preside for Trump’s second impeachment trial.

The terms of the Constitution dictate that “When the President of the United States is impeached, the Chief Justice shall preside.” And last year at this time, the robed Roberts sat high on the Senate dais for the trial of then-President Trump.

It was his constitutional duty, although at some turns Roberts made plain that it was not a pleasant one. This time, the jurist who oversees a court that forbids cameras, who bristles at breaches of decorum and who strives to project a neutral image, will avoid the public scrutiny and role of referee at what is an inherently political affair.

Since the US House of Representatives impeached Trump on January 13, Roberts has declined multiple requests for comment on his responsibility, if any, for a trial after Trump left office on January 20.

Leahy had earlier said that “the first choice” for presiding officer would be the chief justice, and he would not reveal on Monday when it became clear that the duty would fall to him, telling reporters only that he was “up to the responsibility.” [Continue reading…]

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